Sunday, September 18, 2016

What Are You Afraid Of?

God, I hate being right all the time. Well, to be perfectly honest, as a married man, I'm just happy to be right once in a while. And in this instance, I can say I nailed it!

What am I talking about? The Democrats and Republicans got their way: The first Presidential debate will not include anyone else outside of the Democrat and Republican candidates. If you read my last blog, “Repeat After Me", you'd know I predicted this.

(If you haven't read my last blog, please take a moment and do just that. This one is kind of a continuation of that one.)

The Presidential Debate Commission (run by the RNC and DNC) concluded that since no other candidates running for President reached 15% in an average of five polls, only Trump and Clinton would be on the debate stage.

Those five polls were “ABC-Washington Post", “CBS-New York Times", “CNN-Opinion Research Corporation", “Fox News", and “NBC-Wall Street Journal".

Instead of repeating myself concerning “polligana", I thought I'd give you a brief education on how polls are conducted. By the way, isn't it funny that the five polls were conducted by the very news organizations that have been trumpeting "bacon" over and over?

Have you ever heard, in reference to a poll, things like “likely female voters aged 22 – 34”? When you do, pay attention. What that means is that the poll information is skewed towards a certain outcome.

When doing a poll, you first come up with a list of numbers to call. You then take that list and “scrub" it to show only those individuals most likely to respond in a certain way. For instance, “people in voting blocks that previously were heavily Democrat or Republican; voter registrations that are either Democrat or Republican – NOT Independent; within a certain age group – like college students or senior citizens; and subscribe to either cable or satellite television".

And yes, that type of information on you is tracked!

The questions asked during a poll are designed to draw a certain response. “Are you a registered voter?” “How likely are you to vote in this election?” “Do you watch CNN, Fox, or MSNBC news?” “Are you more likely to vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or a third-party (unnamed) candidate?”

(I'm almost sure that the five polls listed above by the Presidential Debate Commission mentioned Johnson and Stein by name, but again, when the choice is bacon or some other breakfast meat . . . I say "almost sure" because I never seem to be one of those called!)

After the polls, the results are also scrubbed to present the results desired.

By the way, this happens all the time. Do you know why there are scientists that either agree or disagree with man-made climate change? Because they look either at the same data differently, or they look at data that is ignored by the other scientists.

So, because no other candidate was “bacon", and didn't get to 15% averaged in five specific polls, only the Republican and Democrat candidates' views on issues will be heard at the debate. Does that make sense?

Here's a better criteria: A candidate needs to be on the ballot in ALL 50 states. That means a candidate must meet the specific criteria each state determines in order to be on that state's ballot. That means dedicated staff and VOLUNTEERS that can get that done. But that wouldn't work, because the RNC and DNC can't control the outcome. And it's all about control.

I'm a registered Independent voter. I'm not a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, or any other designation. And I'm not alone. Over 50% of registered voters are Independent. Think about that. If Independents were ONLY 50% of registered voters, that would mean that LESS THAN 50% are either Republicans or Democrats – COMBINED! Does it make sense to you that the MINORITY parties should be in control of the conversation (the debates)?

To quote Gary Johnson: “We're on the ballot in all 50 states. We're polling higher than Perot did in '92. We're breaking 3rd party fundraising records.”

I say that candidates like Johnson DESERVE to have their opinions heard.

To you Republicans and Democrats I ask, concerning the Presidential debates, "What are you afraid of?"

©Emittravel 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Repeat After Me

Have you ever heard the story about bacon? Not Kevin Bacon, though, as a person only separated from him by six degrees, I kinda have a man crush on him. (And to be honest, who doesn't?) I'm talking about the salty, delicious, only-good-when-crisp, making a cheap piece of meat expensive by being wrapped in it, and (literal) heart breaker, bacon.

When the folks who make their living selling bacon wanted to increase sales, they took a poll by contacting doctors and asking them “Is it better to eat a hearty breakfast in the morning, or eat nothing?” As would be expected, most doctors said that eating a hearty breakfast was better. The bacon folks reported the results as “Most doctors polled said that a hearty breakfast was good for you, and a hearty breakfast includes bacon.” This got repeated over and over. Then later, when taking a second poll asking people whether or not it was good to eat bacon, most said “yes", because they heard that it was, over and over and over. And this was reported as news. And now you know, as the late Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. Bacon is the number one selling breakfast meat.

That is what is sometimes referred to as “polligana". Where polls are used to create “news" and sway public opinion by the very act of repetition.

In a recent interview, former Governor and Presidential candidate Gary Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo. His response? “What is Aleppo?”

First off, I want to say that I appreciate the honesty of Johnson. I seriously doubt Clinton or Trump would say they didn't know something. They would spew some political speak that answers the question by not answering it.

(Clinton said "You can look on the map and find Aleppo." Which was a clever thing to say once someone explained to HER what "Aleppo" was!)

This little piece of the interview (stopped JUST before he gave his actual answer - once being told Aleppo was the hotbed of what is happening in Syria) was played over and over in the media and social media networks.

Let me tell you, I'm not uninformed. But by that I don't mean I'm glued to the talking heads on cable news 24/7. Nor does that mean I spend every waking moment reading the same stories copied ad infinitum in every internet news media source. But what it does mean is that I know what is going on in Syria.

But until this interview, I had NEVER heard the word “Aleppo".

Now, if the question to Johnson was what he would do about Syria, he would not have skipped a beat and answered the question. (And you should check out that response – it is a GOOD one!)

Why the obscure question? To trip him up. And that is the only reason to ask the question in that manner.

Well, one other reason: to sway public opinion.

And there is a very good reason to want to sway public opinion against Gary Johnson. You see, according to a poll (yeah, yeah, I know), 62% of Americans want Gary Johnson in the debates. According to the Presidential Debate Commission, he needs to be at 15% in national polls. So, he's in, right? Wrong.

Most of the polls since the primaries started only included two parties: the Republicans and the Democrats (and, now that the primaries are over, only two candidates: Clinton and Trump). There has been very few that mentioned any so-called “third-party" candidates. So, based on repetition, the most bacon-like names are Clinton and Trump. So, when a third or fourth name is tossed in the mix, the number of people selecting someone that is not “bacon" is very few.

Until recently, the Presidential Debate Commission had never needed to explain what that precious 15% meant. Now they say it is an average of 15% based on five polls.

Why is this significant? Because the Presidential Debate Commission is made up of members of the RNC and the DNC. This 15% came about as a protection against any third-party candidate (like Ross Perot) who can “muck up the waters".

The only thing Republicans and Democrats care for is protecting their own. And that is it. Like I've said before, they don't give a rat's ass about what is best for the country, only for what is best for maintaining power. Ever hear of bipartisanship? That is where both Republicans and Democrats get together to cause the least amount of damage to themselves. And where the government is concerned, there is no such thing as nonpartisanship.

So, keeping any voices out that might shake up the bacon bits needs to be quashed. And that happens by repetition. And that happens by having those in the media repeat the desired opinions over and over and over. And those are the desired opinions of the Republicans and Democrats.

I say to hell with the "rules" of the Presidential Debate Commission, and let OTHER voices be heard!

Because we know EXACTLY what they are afraid of.

©Emittravel 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016


"C.I.D." That's what I have written in the space I'm supposed to put my signature on the back of all of my credit cards. Not only do I have "C.I.D." on the back of my credit cards, but I also have that on the back of my new Chip 'n Pin 'n Swipe cards.

What are Chip 'n Pin 'n Swipe cards? Those are the cards with that new chip installed where you are supposed to insert it into the card reader at the store, but then have to swipe it because the clerk informs you that the chip part isn't working yet.

At least this place had the courtesy to let you know!

Not only do a lot of the chip readers not work, but the whole Chip 'n Pin system is a bust. It was designed to be a more secure form of exchange, but in actuality, it is no more secure than the simple "swipe" style of before.

And here's why:

"C.I.D." is the clever way of saying "See I.D." (or identification). More accurately, "C.I.D." means to "Check I.D." Since very few minimum-wage cashiers are also handwriting experts, it's more secure to have them check the name stamped on the card against the name on the I.D.

You know what? I can take my little Check 'n Pin card and stick it in a (working) chip reader, make my transaction, put the card back in my wallet, and walk out the door, and NO ONE will check to verify if that card was stolen or not.

As long as the other half of the transaction (you know, the person working the register) never bothers to compare the name on the card to the name on some form of identification of the person in possession of the card, the "secure" portion of the transaction has never taken place.

Anyone can walk into a store with a stolen credit card and chip it or swipe it and walk away without issue.

I've heard from quite a few that rave about the Chip 'n Pin system being SO secure, and that it is so good for the United States to FINALLY start to catch up to the rest of the world. But you know what? That is hogwash. It is a false sense of security. And for businesses to have to spend all kinds of money to comply is without value.

There is, of course, another option:

For those who have made the jump to "smart phones", and aren't using Windows, and have a bank that supports it, and you go to stores that support it, you can always pay with your phone. Using NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology, you can use a secure PIN, or (if available) your fingerprint, and simply hold your phone over the card reader. Because you have possession of your phone, and you know the PIN or have the correct fingerprint, it is more likely that the person making the transaction is indeed the possessor of the (previously entered into the phone) credit card.

Unfortunately, I use a battery extension case on my phone (because the battery life on my phone isn't the best), and the NFC won't transmit through the case. The case is too much of a pain to take on and off to make using it for payments useful.

But if you REALLY want to confuse the cashier, you can always use cash!

Which reminds me of an old joke:

I once went to Denny's and after breakfast found out that my eggs were Egg Beaters, my sausage was Sizzlean, and my orange juice was Tang.

So I paid for my meal with Monopoly money.

©Emittravel 2016